Little Billy is hoping for gift of life

By Liz HearnshawHUNDREDS of kind-hearted people flocked to register as bone marrow donors in the hope a match can be found that will save the life of a two-year-old toddler suffering from a rare form of leukaemia.

By Liz Hearnshaw

HUNDREDS of kind-hearted people flocked to register as bone marrow donors in the hope a match can be found that will save the life of a two-year-old toddler suffering from a rare form of leukaemia.

Billy Keith touched the hearts of scores of well-wishers who turned out in Newmarket yesterday to offer blood samples - the first stage in giving the gift of life to people needing urgent treatment.

But jockeys Michael Hills and Declan Dwyer, who had both hoped to sign up at the Anthony Nolan Trust event, were turned away because they did not meet the required eight-stone threshold weight.

The event was organised by Billy's grandparents, Rossie and Tim Bulwer-Long, from Higham, after tests on family members, including the toddler's 13-month-old sister Ella-Rose, failed to match.

Billy, whose mother Lottie is a former Newmarket High School pupil, was diagnosed in March as suffering from a rare form of leukaemia and his only hope is a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.

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His grandparents were optimistic that even if a match for the youngster had not been found yesterday, the event may still have saved someone else's life.

“The turnout has been brilliant and we were thrilled to have around 200 people come along in just two hours,” said Mrs Bulwer-Long.

“If we haven't found a match for Billy, hopefully we have for some other little person in the same situation.”

She added: “Michael Hills and Declan Dwyer came along and, although they couldn't register, they donated to The Anthony Nolan Trust, which is brilliant as each blood test is very expensive and costs around £70.

“Frankie Dettori, who is in Dubai at the moment, has also offered us his support.”

Mr Bulwer-Long, a horseracing manager, used his contacts to encourage workers from the studs around Newmarket to help, while nurses from across the region volunteered their time to take the blood samples.

“Billy is stable at the moment, and we are just hoping for the best,” added Mrs Bulwer-Long. “We just feel there must be somebody out there who can help.”

For more information about becoming a donor, contact The Anthony Nolan Trust at www.anthonynolan.org.uk or on 0207 284 1234.

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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